If you’ve never tasted keema, or that wonderfully spiced Indian-style ground beef, you’re totally missing out on some great flavor. Surely every family makes it a little different- even I have a few different versions, but for samosas I like to recreate a certain flavor.
The first time I ever had it was at a suhoor in which I was a guest at a Muslim family’s home- it was my first experience staying overnight where I got to experience how suhoor was eaten in a Pakistani family and it was a fascinating one.
They served finely ground beef with freshly-made chappatis and carrot halwa, which is sweet. I will never forget all those flavors- it’s not anything I would have ever thought of eating, but I was hooked on the aroma, the taste and how satisfied I felt, making me strong and ready to face a day of fasting in Ramadan.
This time around since I’m making samosas (similar to latin-style empanadas), I use some pretty standard spices and ingredients that are kind of a must in samosas, although peas and potatoes aren’t exactly two of them- I like them and may even make them only with potatoes next time. You could leave them out of this recipe, if you like. I’m also baking these, not frying them.
Spices: garam masala (mixture of black peppercorns, black cardamom seeds, mustard seeds), cumin powder, turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, sea salt.
Fresh ingredients: garlic/ginger paste, freshly cut jalapeño/green chili, freshly chopped cilantro, yellow or white onion, diced yukon gold potatoes, frozen peas.
We also need a great quality dhabiha halal ground beef. In this recipe, I use Midamar Halal’s USDA organic beef.
*Sidenote: One tip I’ve learned in terms of how to get the beef to be really, really fine if you don’t have a grinder, is to use a potato masher when cooking. You can do that if you don’t use potatoes in this recipe, otherwise, you’ll mash the potatoes, too.
I make the garam masala fresh, but you can also find it in most Indian stores already packaged up. I did not have mace so it’s not a part of my mixture, but you can definitely add it.
I use a coffee grinder to make it and clean it out in between grinding spices and coffee with a piece of fresh bread- works wonders!
It looks like this when it’s all ground up:
Then mix it up with all of the other spices so that they’re nicely combined and easy to add to the meat while it’s cooking. It’s good to have this ready ahead of time so they’re all incorporated at the same time.
It’s so pretty when mixed together, and smells amazing- smells like samosas-in-the-making to me!
To make the keema (ground beef), heat the oil gently. You can use olive or vegetable oil. If you’re making the samosas with potatoes, salt the oil at this time- it will help the potatoes to not stick to a non-stick pan.
Once the oil is nicely heated (but not burning), add the diced potatoes. Good idea to have this done way ahead of time, as you don’t want this heating up to much before you add the potatoes.
Let those cook for some time, about 4-5 minutes, using a spatula to move the potatoes around and help them use the salt to not stick to the pan.
Next, add the onion and cook until transparent then add the meat and all the spices.
The frozen peas are added last to prevent them from getting mushy.
After the meat has cooked for about 15 more minutes (and you’re continuously crushing up any bits of meat, since it should be finely ground), add the peas.
Now is the fun part! After the meat has cooled, you’ll be making the puff pastries and prepping them for baking. You need one package of puff pastry, two if you want to use up all the meat. One package makes about 12 pastries. Most will need to be cut into six pieces (two sheets come in a standard package), as seen below.
Since the meat is cooled, add about 2 tablespoons to each piece.
Fold each one over and crimp three edges with a fork (not the folded-over part).
Use an egg wash (one egg with 1-2 tablespoons whole milk), whisked.
Two people doing it goes a lot faster.
Now brush the tops generously.This will help them to look golden when they’re baked- you want that! On a parchment-lined baking sheet, place six, a few inches a part, to give them room to grow.
Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes.
I only use the top shelf in my oven. When I used the bottom, they didn’t puff well and went flat, so be sure to do the same.
The hardest part is waiting for them to cool off before trying them- if you open them too early, they’ll also flop. Just let them cool a few minutes and enjoy!
What’s your favorite way to enjoy a samosa? Baked, fried, with potatoes or without, with peas or without? Any special spices you must include? As always, I’d love to hear from you!
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 cup Yukon gold potato, diced
- 1 cup yellow onions, finely diced or minced
- 3 teaspoons garlic-ginger paste (equal parts crushed fresh ginger mixed with crushed fresh garlic)
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1.5 teaspoon ground garam masala (equal parts black peppercorns, black cardamom seeds, black or yellow mustard seeds)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro
- 1 small jalapeno or green chili, diced (seeds removed)
- 1/2 cup peas
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons whole milk
- 2 packages puff pastry sheets (2 sheets per box make 12 pastries per box); 1 pound box/17.3 ounces each
- To a large sauté pan, add the oil and heat gently. If you're making the samosas with potatoes, add salt to the oil at this time to prevent the potatoes from sticking to the pan (unless you’re using non-stick), otherwise add the salt with the spices later in the cooking process.
- Once the oil is hot (not burning) add the diced potatoes. Cook until softened and slightly browned, about 4-5 minutes. Use a spatula to move the potatoes around and help them use the salt to not stick to the pan.
- Next, add the onion and cook until transparent. Add the meat and all the spices. Cook for about 15 more minutes. Add the peas last and gently combine them into the meat.
- Remove from heat and let cool, about 10 minutes.
- Prepare the puff pastries for baking. Remove the sheets from the refrigerator only when you’re ready to begin stuffing (they work best when cold).
- To make the egg wash, combine one egg with 1-2 tablespoons whole milk). Whisk together.
- Prepare four baking sheets by lining each with parchment paper. Place six on a sheet to give them room to grow when baking.
- Cut each sheet of puff pastry into six pieces when needed (not ahead of time). Add about 2 tablespoons of meat to each piece. Fold each piece over and crimp the edges with a fork.
- Brush the tops of each pastry generously. This will help them to look golden when they're baked.
- Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes on the oven’s top shelf (if you follow the top-shelf method, you’ll have to do two at a time, so the cooking time will double).
- Remove from heat and let cool slightly before serving.
- Be sure to have all ingredients prepared ahead of time to prevent oil from burning and to make sure all the spices have time to cook evenly.
- It’s important to have the beef finely ground for this recipe. If you don't have a meat grinder simply use a potato masher when cooking. You can do that if you don't use potatoes in this recipe, otherwise, you'll mash the potatoes, too.
- I combine the spices to make fresh garam masala but you can also find it in most Indian stores already packaged. I did not have mace so it's not a part of my garam masala mixture, but you can definitely add it.